After a groin injury led to his release from the Chiefs, kicker Cairo Santos is thrilled about landing on his feet with the Bears.
"It feels amazing to be healthy and to get an opportunity to play in such a great organization," Santos said Wednesday at Halas Hall. "I had a chance to come here and visit last week and I was hoping this opportunity would work out.
Cairo Santos made 84.8 percent of his field-goal attempts with the Chiefs.
"I was very impressed with them from top to bottom, from [general manager] Ryan Pace to the coaches around here and the people around here. It gives you the kind of atmosphere as a player that you can succeed."
Santos, 26, signed with the Bears on Monday. He spent the past four seasons with the Chiefs, converting 89-of-105 field-goal attempts (84.8 percent), including 3-of-3 this year. Santos aggravated a groin injury in a Week 3 win over the Chargers, was placed on injured reserve Sept. 26 and then released four days later.
"I was confident it wasn't going to be a serious injury," Santos said. "I just needed time. I dealt with it in training camp. I was kicking really well. I was the only kicker in K.C. I just didn't give it the proper time to heal. I tried to play the first three games and it got worse. So my main goal was to get 100 percent.
"I've been kicking for about a month now. It's in good shape to come back and take a full load from a week's practice and the game. So I'm thankful that for me it worked out."
Santos performed well for the Chiefs last season, connecting on 31-of-35 field-goal attempts (88.6 percent) while appearing in all 16 games. His 88.6 percent ranked fifth in the NFL.
"He's been around," said special-teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers. "He's kicked in the league. He's kicked in Kansas City, which is a similar climate. Their field is similar to Soldier Field. He's played in some big games, played in some important situations and he's, by and large, been successful in those situations."
Santos is the first Brazilian-born player to appear in an NFL game. He was introduced to American football at the age of 15 while visiting Florida as a foreign exchange student.
Santos conceded that it took him awhile to get accustomed to kicking in the Midwest's wintry weather.
"It was hard at first to come in from Brazil and then playing at Tulane in an indoor stadium, it was quite an adjustment to KC weather," Santos said. "But the last four years I think it shaped me to be an accomplished kicker. I played in some really bad stuff—rain, snow, three-degree weather last year, cold playoffs at home, away, so I've kind of gone through it all.
"Hopefully at Soldier Field, I know it's going to be the toughest place to kick, but through that experience I've learned to hit a straight ball, at least kind of do the things I can control, to not think about the elements. So I'm thankful to have those experiences jumping into a place like Chicago."